Study questions for J. M. Coetzee’s Foe could address both the novel’s unique features and its indebtedness to its predecessor, Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. Relevant questions about Foe’s specific characteristics could revolve around the character of Susan Barton. For example, one might focus on her activities in England as she tries to get her story told in print. In contrast, one could examine her life on the island with Cruso and Friday. Relevant questions could address whether her character is dynamic and undergoes changes as a result of this experience. A distinctive feature of the novel, which is Coetzee’s use of the epistolary technique, might also be a subject of inquiry.
A set of questions that compare and contrast Foe with Robinson Crusoe could address the larger historical context of both novels, as Coetzee sets his work during the early eighteenth century rather than in modern times. The role of racism in the two works could be explored, including the impact of colonialism on European encounters with non-European peoples.